Mongolia

Mongolia: Emergency Appeal No. 02/03

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Posted
Originally published
IN BRIEF
THIS APPEAL SEEKS CHF 3,906,000 (USD 2.85m / EUR 2.67m) IN CASH, KIND AND SERVICES TO ASSIST 115,000 BENEFICIARIES FOR 10 MONTHS

Situation

Mongolia is facing another devastating winter which will greatly exacerbate the effects of the three previous drought/dzud1 cycles (2000, 2001, 2002) which have already caused extreme poverty amongst a proportion of the population.

Based on the latest information collected by the Mongolian Red Cross Society and the State Emergency Commission, 665,000 people or 133,000 families2 have been severely affected by this year's dzud. The summer drought has prevented a large number of herders from collecting enough hay for the winter, a winter that started earlier than normal, forcing many herders to use their scarce stocks of hay starting from September.

Many herders are now running out of fodder. With animals not being likely to have access to fresh pasture until May, the number of animals who will not make it through the winter is going to increase dramatically. In the first two weeks of January, 24000 animals are reported dead by the State Emergency Commission which is a strong indication of worse to come. The State Emergency Commission has forecasted that 2.3 to 2.5 million animals are expected to die within the next 3-4 month.

The Mongolian Government is in close contact with UNDP but as yet not decided to appeal for international assistance through the UN system. The government has released funds for the distribution of wheat, rice, milk powder, warm clothes, boots and medical supplies in 12 aimags. The same 12 aimags have also been given supplies of fodder for the animals at discounted rates.

The International Federation undertook an in depth assessment of the developing situation in November 2002. The Assessment Team reported early and heavy snowfall in many areas, and worrying predictions for winter, threatening health levels and livelihoods in both rural and urban environments.

The Team also reported that the impact of three previous dzuds and droughts have depleted coping mechanisms to the point where coping failure is likely given another dzud this winter3. The Assessment team stated that: there are increasing numbers of herders with insufficient or no livestock to sustain livelihood; there is evidence of increasing destitution due to lack of assets and employment of ex-herders in bagh (sub-county), soum (county) and aimag (province) centres and there are increasing numbers of households migrating to Ulaan Baatar, where unemployment and high registration fees (barring access to welfare services) is causing severe destitution.4

Vulnerability in Mongolia reflects three distinctive features:

  • A high economic dependency upon intensive herding practices which are in turn dependent upon predictable weather patterns.

  • A series of exceptionally extreme weather conditions (drought and dzud) since 1999/2000;

  • The transition from a totalitarian to a democratic government, and a command to a free market economy.
In the early 1990s, there was a large-scale increase in the national herd and the numbers of people herding due to a relaxation of strictly controlled production targets, and state encouragement to small scale herders. The national herd increased from a long time level of around 26 million animals to 33 million. In the view of many, this was an unsustainable figure, which has led to overgrazing, oversupply and a degradation in the quality of the herd. In addition, insuring one's livestock became optional, and few herders did so.

The repeated dzuds and droughts of the past four years have killed over 6 million animals. The national herd has been rapidly reduced to around its pre-1991 level. In one sense, this represent a return to some level of sustainability regarding Mongolia's agricultural industry. But the severity of the weather patterns, longer term climatic changes to water levels and desertification, and a free market environment is also eroding the ability of the national herd to be maintained even at pre-1991 levels. A further long term reduction of the sustainable level of farming seems likely.

However, the transition process which led to a rapid increase in people dependent upon herding is now unable to provide those people whose livelihoods have been destroyed or severely damaged. Privatisation and the free market has not created enough alternative employment opportunities. According to the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labour, "The biggest reason for impoverishment is unemployment." There are 150,000 people officially registered as unemployed (17% of workforce), but the true figure is certainly much higher, and is as much as 50% in urban areas.

Reduced state spending has resulted in an inadequate welfare net to protect the vulnerable. The lack of state services and support in rural regions is collapsing due to the loss of transportation and reduced re-supply of essential items. This has led to a migration of herders to the three main cities, most notably Ulaan Baatar. This has overloaded the already reduced state health, education, shelter and welfare services, and has put severe strain upon the city's infrastructure.

The direct cause of a dzud disaster is the accumulation of damaging natural hazards, undermining the welfare and food security of the herding community through large-scale death and debilitation of livestock. The indirect causes are mainly over-concentration of stock and overgrazing of pastures in some areas, leading to environmental degradation, the disappearance of abundant grass, and inadequate winter hay preparation.

Extremes of climate and difficulties caused by social and economic transition have also contributed to the current disaster situation.5

Based on the previously mentioned November Assessment Mission and more recent field visits and consultations with Government and other agencies based in Mongolia, the International Federation is launching an emergency appeal with the overall aim of contributing to the dzud survival and recovery of 115,000 men, women and children in 17 aimags through the provision of wheat flour, children's warm clothes, and adult boots. A key objective of the operation will also be to build the capacity of the Mongolia Red Cross Society to reduce longer term vulnerability through revitalising Red Cross local branches (primary organisations) in 17 soums and 3 aimags.

The International Federation last week released 300,000 CHF from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in order for the Mongolia Red Cross Society to immediately procure and distribute 500 MT wheat flour (6 months ration) for 3300 families (16,500 people) in three of the worst affected aimags: Khubsgul, Bulgan and Selenge. These three aimags have suffered the most severe snowfall combined with icy conditions.

The National Society is also distributing 750 radios6 to herders living in isolated areas. The radios distributed in the last two emergency operations have been greatly appreciated, as they are the foremost means of public information, they are particularly important for extremely isolated families reliant upon good weather information, they are used to receive health, agricultural and other advice, and would appear to form an important aspect of personal and communal psychological well being.7

The Federation Regional Information Delegate, the Regional Disaster Management Delegate and the Logistics Delegate from the Federation DPRK delegation are presently in Mongolia supporting the MRCS with the implementation of the relief operation.

A Relief Co-ordinator and a Logistics Delegate are expected to arrive in Mongolia in the next two weeks to take over the operation. The Field Delegate position has been advertised.

Needs

Immediate Needs

Based on interviews undertaken by the Assessment Team and the National Society the following items have been identified as the most immediate needs:

  • Wheat Flour
  • Boots
  • Jackets and trousers for children
  • Radios
The relief items suggested are those which combined have a high value for the target population in terms of both immediate consumption and assistance to the household economy (thus liberating household resources to obtain other priority items). Most of the included items have been proved to have high impact on vulnerability in previous Red Cross and NGO relief actions in Mongolia. The radios are not included in this appeal as these have been fundraised locally by the National Society.

Priority Vulnerable Groups and Selection Criteria

Priority vulnerable groups for Red Cross assistance, as identified by the Assessment Team, will be:

  • Impoverished Herders
  • Ex-herders in soum and aimag Centres
  • The Urban Poor
More information is provided at the end of this document on the rationale for the prioritisation of these groups.

As in previous operations, beneficiary lists will be drafted at the bagh and soum (county) level by representative committees and verified by aimag (province) representative committees and MRCS headquarters. The criteria to identify target beneficiaries will include, those households which:

  • have lost all their livestock and have no alternative employment,
  • have suffered high livestock losses and have no alternative employment,
  • are living in urban areas and are unregistered and unemployed,
  • are permanent single head households, and
  • households containing members with special health or care needs.
A third of each county level selection committees will consist of non-Red Cross or local government representatives, and will reflect both genders as equally as is possible. Selection criteria, committee processes, nature and frequency of assistance and grievance processes will be posted in public places.

Other communication mediums which will contribute to greater accountability and transparency will be:

  • Broadcasts on the local county radio station, including the reading of beneficiary names.
  • Beneficiary names will be posted at the soum distribution center.
  • Local county Red Cross Distribution members or the head of Bagh (sub-county) informing identified Red Cross beneficiaries; and
  • Word of mouth amongst herder families.
Coordination

There are over 1,500 local NGOs, covering a range of agendas, and mostly with extremely limited capacity. According to UNDP, achieving consensus and coordination between them is very difficult. This means that collectively they have very limited capacity regarding advocacy and lobbying.

International NGOs have various programmes in UB, and in a few aimags. Although they have a much less extensive national network than the MRCS, many have evolved significant developmental capacities and innovative community-based projects. The main INGOs include: World Vision, ADRA, SCF, UNICEF. Governmental donors such as USAID and JICA are almost exclusively focusing on long term development.

With regard to emergency actions for the 2002/3 winter, the Assessment team reported that the capacity of the INGOs is small when compared to that of the Red Cross, but collectively would represent a significant input to relief assistance. WFP is watching the situation and the actions of the International Federation closely. It may send an assessment team early in 2003. ECHO is planning to undertake an assessment in late January.

The MRCS is the most important provider of relief assistance besides the government. The Red Cross' comparative advantages in terms of an immediate emergency operation are its unique grassroots network and outreach in rural areas, and its capacity and experience in delivering relief goods to these areas. MRCS is in a strong position to advocate for better coordination of emergency and long term assistance at the donor level. Over the next 12 months the Red Cross will be lobbying other agencies to develop a coordinated strategy for more sustainable responses to long term vulnerabilities resulting from the combined effects of economic transition, high economic dependency upon intensive herding practices and extreme climatic conditions.

Government of Mongolia

The Government has released funds for the distribution of wheat, rice, milk powder, warm clothes, boots and medical supplies in 12 aimags. The same 12 aimags have also been given supplies of fodder for the animals at discounted rates.

Long term governmental strategies revolve around reducing urban migration. Various means are being used to achieve this, including:

  • Land reform, which will give each family a parcel of land in order to encourage small scale agricultural activity and land development

  • Rural poverty reduction and regional development plans, including improved rural services, incentives for health workers and teaching staff to go into rural areas, business enterprise, vocational training and infrastructural improvements.

  • The improvement of pastoral management, irrigation, animal vaccination, increase hay and fodder reserves, improvement of information services.8

  • According to some, the high registration fees that give access to welfare services in UB, which are intended to act as a deterrent to possible migrants.
In the short term, the government has slightly increased its capacity and preparedness to cope with another dzud. The Review Team found some well-organised provincial authorities, and evidence of intensive data collection and mapping within aimags. The State Emergency Committee has undertaken preventative measures including the reparation of water sources and wells, the procurement of additional fodder reserves, and information for herders on recommended pastures, routings and land allocations. The view of UNDP and some diplomatic missions is that the Mongolian Government is better prepared for this winter than it has been in the past.

However, observers see very little progress in actioning the government's longer term strategies, and little additional capacity to provide any significant support to the vulnerable. In addition, it has no strategies to address the impacts of urban migration and the resulting urban poverty. In the short term, the government's emergency plans are almost entirely focused on supporting herders with livestock remaining. There is little in the way of emergency support for impoverished ex-herders and other very vulnerable groups at either soum, aimag or city levels.

Proposed Operation

Objectives and activities planned to reach the objectives

Overall Goal

To contribute to the dzud survival and recovery of 115,000 men, women and children in 17 aimags through the provision of wheat flour, children's jackets and trousers, and adult boots and to build the capacity to revitalise Red Cross local branches (primary organisations) in 17 soums and 3 aimags involved in the distribution of emergency relief.

Verifiable indicators:

  • 80% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that the distributions covered at least 80% of their household deficit and contributed to their dzud survival and recovery.

  • 17 Red Cross primary organisations revitalised.

  • At least 10 of the target Red Cross primary organisations planning/implementing longer term vulnerability reduction activities by the end of the dzud relief operation.
Relief: distribution of food and basic non-food items

Objective 1 To ensure a minimum calorific intake for 115,000 of the most vulnerable women, men and children for a six month period by providing a supplementary ration of 300 Kg wheat flour per family. This represents the equivalent of a daily ration of approximately 1200 kCal/person/day (approximately a half day ration by Sphere standards).

Verifiable indicators:

  • 80% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that the wheat flour covered at least 70% of their household deficit and contributed to their dzud survival and recovery;

  • systems are in place which enable stock levels, movements and distributions to be monitored; and, commodity selected for distribution includes consideration of local acceptability and preparation and nutritional composition.

  • Procurement of wheat flour for 3300 families in the three worst affected aimags; Khubsgul, Bulgan and Selenge has already commenced. These three aimags have suffered severe snow fall combined restricting the animals access to the pasture and the situation is becoming increasingly serious for both the rural and urban population.
Objective 2: To establish a food for work programme in 3 target aimags that improves the availability of food to vulnerable households and creates long-lasting and productive community assets.

Verifiable indicators:

  • Number of households registered (to be quantified)

  • Number of Food for Work committees formed and active (to be quantified)

  • Coverage of registered households receiving food (to be quantified)
Objective 3: To maintain or increase the school attendance of 23,000 very vulnerable children in the worst affected areas through the provision of warm jackets and trousers.

Verifiable indicators:

  • 80% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that jackets and trousers are appropriate to climatic conditions.

  • School attendance in five sample schools is maintained or increased following relief distributions in the soums.

  • 80% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that the children's clothing provided liberated household resources to obtain other priority items.
Objective 4: To provide adult boots for 23,000 herder households in order to enable herding to continue when horses have died and/or when the household economy prevents the purchase of adequate footwear.

Verifiable indicators:

  • 80% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that boots were appropriate to climatic conditions.

  • 100% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that the boots assisted the family to continue herding.

  • 80% of beneficiaries interviewed confirm that the boots provided liberated household resources to obtain other priority items.
Advocacy

Objective 1: To lobby other agencies to develop a coordinated strategy for more sustainable responses to long term vulnerabilities.

Verifiable indicators:

  • Red Cross no longer perceived as the only relief response mechanism in Mongolia and is recognised by other agencies as an important player in reducing longer term vulnerability.

  • MRCS signs memorandum of understanding with NGO(s) and/or UN establishing modus operandi for coordinated responses.
Media/Public Information Plan w

Objective 1: To bring to the attention of public and donors the ongoing situation in Mongolia, both in urban and rural areas, and the need for a long-term solution to the plight of herders and ex-herders; obtain and maintain visibility of the Red Cross response to the disaster.

Verifiable indicators:

  • Press release distributed 20 January to accompany the launch of the appeal.

  • Video News Release distributed for Appeal Launch to TV broadcasters to highlight situation in Mongolia.

  • Regional Information Delegate has provided one other video news release to TV broadcasters.

  • Regional Information Delegate provides at least three web stories on the Mongolia operation for use by the Federation and National Societies over the duration of the Operation.

  • An article in the Red Cross Red Crescent magazine is published.

  • At least five media interviews conducted following Appeal launch for TV, radio and print on situation and the Red Cross response.

  • Broadcasts on the local county radio station, including the reading of beneficiary names.

  • Beneficiary names posted at the county center

  • Local county Red Cross Distribution members or the head of bagh informing identified Red Cross beneficiaries; and

  • Word of mouth amongst herder families.
Objective 2: To improve the information capacity of the Mongolian Red Cross.

Verifiable indicators:

  • MRCS has established a website by the end of the dzud operation with support from the Regional Information Delegate.

  • Provision of at least two stories and information materials by MRCS Information Officer.
Capacity of the National Society

Objective 1: To revitalise Red Cross local branches (primary organisations) in 17 soums and 3 aimags involved in the distribution of emergency relief items (10 months).

Verifiable indicators:

  • Red Cross primary organisation leaders in the 17 target soums and 3 aimags report better retention of volunteers and at least 20% increase in the number of volunteers in their organisation, as a result of the capacity building support provided through the relief operation.

  • Volunteers in the 3 aimags and 17 primary organisations are trained in relief and other Red Cross activities over the duration of the relief operation.

  • At least 10 of the target Red Cross primary organisations planning/implementing longer term vulnerability reduction activities by the end of the dzud relief operation.

  • Appeal plan of action summary is available in Mongolian and distributed to 20 soum and aimag branches targeted under this capacity building activity.
The soums and aimags targeted under this objective will be selected based on those which are most responsive and committed to revitalising the Red Cross local structure and sustainable community based activities.

Objective 2: To strengthen the capacity of two humanitarian centres in Ulaan Baatar to deliver outreach services to the urban poor.

Verifiable indicators:

  • By end of the relief operation the each of the humanitarian centres have increased the number of families involved in the outreach programs by 25%.
Objective 3: To build the relief logistics capacity of the Mongolia Red Cross Society through training workshop and on the job training for MRCS staff in Federation logistics procedures.

Verifiable indicators:

  • Logistics Delegate facilitate at least 4 specialised workshops (transport, procurement, warehousing etc) in International Federation Logistics procedures and standards during the operation at Headquarters and aimag level.

  • By end of operation clear allocation of logistics responsibilities within the MRCS headquarters organogram.
Objective 4: To build the capacity of MRCS aimag branches through the provision of 10 desk top computers.

Verifiable indicators:

  • Each Branch receives training in use of the computers by end of the operation.
Monitoring and Evaluation

Objective 1: To improve MRCS Headquarter and Mongolia Federation Delegation systems for establishing baseline data, monitoring, reporting and evaluation (10 months).

Verifiable indicators:

  • Appeal action plan is available in Mongolian and distributed to all target Red Cross aimag/soum branches.

  • Existence of baseline information amongst the beneficiary groups against which the impact of assistance can be measured.

  • Existence of baseline information on volunteers and activities in primary organisations targeted against which the impact of capacity building support can be measured.

  • Existence of beneficiary self-monitoring via the publication of selection criteria, assistance contents, beneficiary lists and grievance systems in public places.

  • Federation Field Delegate selected had previous field experience in monitoring and evaluation.

  • National Society in cooperation with the Federation Field delegate monitors at least 85 families (1% of beneficiaries) in their homes between late February and late June.

  • Operation updates provide information against verifiable indicators outlined in this Appeal document.

  • Evaluation undertaken to measure efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the operation.
Capacity of the Federation

Objective 1: To mobilise the appropriate human, in kind and financial resources to provide efficient and effective support to the National Society (10 months)

Verifiable indicators:

  • International Emergency Appeal launched in January 2003 and is based on a detailed needs assessment.

  • The East Asia Delegation kick starts the operation through the mobilisation of its Regional Disaster Management Delegate and the DPRK Logistics Delegate.

  • Relief Coordinator, Logistics and Field Delegates identified and mobilised for a period of at least 6 months by end of January 2003.

  • International Emergency Appeal serves to re-engage sister societies in longer term programming in Mongolia.

  • Throughout the Operation, the Federation delegates supporting the dzud relief operation are actively supporting the MRCS in developing longer term strategies for addressing local vulnerabilities.
Additional Information

What is a Dzud?

"The Mongolian term dzud denotes any one of a range of winter conditions